FT. WORTH, Texas (November 7, 2009) – Penske Racing’s No.12 Verizon Wireless Dodge team persevered Saturday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway to earn a 25th-place finish in the O’Reilly Challenge NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
After an on-track incident midway through the 200-lap event, it looked as if standout rookie racer Justin Allgaier would finish toward the back of the field, which would have been a serious setback to his quest to secure fifth place in the season-long series championship standings. The Verizon Wireless team kept working, however, and patched the car back together. Allgaier returned to the 1.5-mile speedway and picked up six valuable positions that allowed the determined driver to retain his fifth-place position in the rankings.
Allgaier started Saturday’s race in 17th place, but he was confident he had a machine that could fight inside the top-10. He spent the first 50 laps of the race struggling with a very tight-handling car. Although Allgaier fought to turn the No. 12 in the corners, he was still picking up spots on the high-banked speedway. A quarter of the way through the event, Allgaier had his car positioned inside the top-15.
On lap 55, Allgaier brought the Verizon Wireless Dodge down pit lane for a green flag pit stop. The team changed four tires and filled its machine with fuel. The crew also made both air pressure and trackbar adjustments to the car in an effort to improve its handling for the next run.
Allgaier radioed his team five laps later to report that the car was handling better, but was still tight under throttle. Crew chief Chad Walter assured Allgaier that the team would work on the car again under the next round of pit stops.
When the caution flag was displayed to the field on lap 66, the team prepared to once again see the Verizon Wireless Dodge on pit lane. Allgaier drove down pit road three laps later for service. The team filled the car with fuel. Still striving to improve the car’s handling, the crew also made another significant chassis adjustment to the No. 12 machine.
On lap 120, the white and red Verizon Wireless Dodge spun coming out of turn two. Allgaier did a great job keeping the car off the outside retaining wall and it looked as if he was going to drive away unscathed until two cars behind him made contact with both the front and rear of the No. 12 machine.
With significant damage to the car, it appeared that Allgaier’s day was over, but the Verizon Wireless team was focused on finishing the job it started. The crew went to work in the garage area and pieced the car back together. Within 40 laps of on-track action, the team prepared the car to return to the race. Allgaier completed the event and picked up 10 valuable spots in the running order and the points necessary to maintain fifth place in the championship. He crossed the finish line in the 25th position, 56 laps down to race winner Kyle Busch.
“Just a frustrating day,” commented Allgaier after the race. “We felt like the Verizon Wireless Dodge was pretty good. It got a little bit loose after I got over the bumps and I did everything I could to save it and chased it three or four different times back and forth and finally just couldn’t hold onto it anymore. We came down in front of the rest of the field and that’s what happens. I just can’t say enough about the effort the Verizon Wireless Dodge team put in to get this car back together. It just shows everyone’s dedication to our season-long goals. I am so proud to be a part of this group.”
With Allgaier still ranked fifth in the Nationwide Series standings, he is 13 points in front of sixth-place driver Mike Bliss with two races remaining. Allgaier also remained atop the Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year standings.
The Verizon Wireless Dodge team will make its final journey of the season out west, traveling to compete at the one-mile Phoenix International Raceway next Saturday. The Able Body Labor 200 will be seen live on Saturday, November 14 on ESPN2 with coverage beginning at 4 p.m. ET. The event will also be heard live on MRN Radio as well as Sirius Satellite Radio, channel 128.
Justin Allgaier O'Reilly Challenge Statistics
Laps Led: 0